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Sooke Mounties face ever-increasing rate of mental health calls

Sooke News Mirror - 1/26/2024

Sooke RCMP is seeing a steady increase in the number of times it arrests people under the Mental Health Act.

According to the latest data from Sooke RCMP, they responded to 181 mental health calls in 2023, which was around five per cent of their total calls. Nationally, around three per cent of all calls received by the RCMP are related to mental health.

Sooke RCMP detachment commander Staff Sgt. Greg Willcocks said as the community continues to grow, the number of mental health calls will increase.

Under the Mental Health Act, police can arrest a person who is considered a danger to themselves or planning to harm others. That person is then transported to a hospital.

Willcocks said his officers often end up spending an entire shift in hospitals after moving someone undergoing a mental health crisis.

The urgency of the RCMP's warning is emphasized by a recent report from the Sooke Region Communities Health Network (SRCHN), shedding light on the critical inadequacy of mental health and addiction services in the Sooke Region.

Despite the diligent efforts of local service providers, the SRCHN report underscores a critical need for substantial improvements to essential mental health services.

The report offers recommendations encompassing a spectrum of services, including psychiatric emergency care, medical detoxification, in-patient treatment facilities, peer-to-peer support programs, and access to safe supplies, to address these concerning findings.